THESE days based in Leeds, the grand capital of God’s Own Country, Yorkshire, but hailing from the rural south-western corner of Northern Ireland, Joel Johnston returned home to put together his October debut album, Ways To Get Out, to revisit past selves, the musical diet he grew up on, remember the ways he himself got out.
Returning from the bustle of West Yorkshire to County Fermanagh brought nostalgic themes to the fore – the quiet, the revisited stomping grounds of a bucolic indie childhood, he also began to track back into the bands he loved growing up, such as The Postal Service, The Radio Dept, Broken Social Scene and the much-missed The Walkmen.
“This felt like home for me,” Joel says of those bands. “My music nostalgia starts around 2003 and I wanted to try and create a record that had hints of that time period in it, whilst still holding on to what people had known me for up to this point.”
Joel put together Ways To Get Out entirely by himself, writing, recording, playing and mixing. It’s an increasingly prevalent musical approach, but take a listen to the sweet guitar blur of the first single, “Questions”, and know you’re in safe indiepop hands. We’ve got that video for you right here, right now, as it’s debuting this very minute; stick around, as Joel will be doing a Q&A afterwards.
Thematically, Ways To Get Out explores the emotions and relationships of our twentysomething years; longing for the carefree days just now in the rear-view mirror, facing up to the stresses of adulthood and finding your place in the world.
“Ways To Get Out is whatever the listener wants it to be,” says Joel. “Ways to get out of a small town, ways to get out of a relationship, ways to get out of your own head.
“The album as a whole is about the things I came across in my twenties, but could be applied to any transitional period in life: depression and anxiety, tired relationships, feeling stuck within a scenario and place, wishing things were easy like childhood, rejecting your identity and becoming someone else.”
And that’s illustrated by “Questions”, the sweetest, stirring blur of guitar pop fuzz and scuzz that stretches out and down into a more downtempo, sleepy afterwash and absolutely full of hook. May I add The Wannadies as a possible pointer at this juncture? It finds Joel-as-narrator at one of those minor crises of identity, looking around and wishing they were maybe positioned better in the stations of life – there’s that line, “You’re selling everything you own,” as the protagonist decides not to settle and step forward, steps out into something entirely new and different.
With the Far Caspian project now fleshed out to a full band, there’s a UK tour in the offing for October and then the continent next spring, with tickets going on sale this Friday, July 9th, at 10am, here. Those dates are as follows:
Tuesday, October 12th, Jericho Tavern, Oxford;
Wednesday, October 13th, Lafayette, London;
Thursday, October 14th, Patterns, Brighton;
Friday, October 15th, The Louisiana, Bristol;
Wednesday, October 20th, Deaf Institute, Manchester;
Thursday, October 21st, The Hug & Pint, Glasgow;
Friday, October 22nd, Ulster Sports Club, Belfast;
Saturday, October 23rd, Sound House, Dublin, and
Sunday, October 24th, Brudenell Community Room, Leeds.
Dates will then continue in 2022 across Europe, beginning at the Club Nalen, Stockholm, on Wednesday, February 16th, then:
Thursday, February 17th, Revolver, Oslo;
Friday, February 18th, VEGA Ideal Bar, Copenhagen;
Sunday, February 20th, Nochtspeicher, Hamburg;
Monday, February 21st, Berghain Kantine;
Tuesday, February 22nd, Kranhalle, Munich;
Wednesday, February 23rd, Artheater, Cologne;
Friday, February 25th, Paradiso (upstairs), Amsterdam;
Saturday, February 26th, Trix Bar, Antwerp;
Monday, February 28th, Le Pop Up, Paris;
Wednesday, March 2nd, La Nau, Barcelona, and
Thursday, March 3rd, El Sol, Madrid.
Far Caspian’s Ways To Get Out will be released by AllPoints digitally and on double vinyl (containing three additional tracks and an exclusive version of “Reach You”) on October 8th; pre-order or pre-save your copy, here.